Friday, 13 January 2012

A history of computer games: The Next Generation

As we begin to address the present time of gaming with the powerful consoles of today we also notice many evolutionary steps in gaming that were not of concern before such as Blu Ray and High Definition gaming, 3D technology; as well as the massive increase in both cost development and marketing to produce top of the range content but most of all, to make the greatest overturn. Considering video games there have always been two power structures at play, the game “publishing” companies and “game development companies” appear as very different flip sides to a single coin. Game development companies for example; Bioware, Naughty Dog, Infinity Ward, are all highly motivated by the love for high end gaming, entertainment, and experience. However the publishing companies for example; Activision, Sony Computer Entertainment, Electronic Arts, are all in it for profit, the product itself is not of first priority. 

So, from these next generation consoles, we kick start it off with the Xbox 360 (2005/2006), also known as one of the ‘seventh’ generation consoles. It has reached very great success, its features include a portable hard drive of 20gb which would leave behind the idea of ‘memory cards’ in history. Not to mention its awesome online capabilities with “Xbox live” which is actually one of its greatest attractions when it comes to choosing a console in present day? Although customers have to pay for a yearly subscription it is very stable and polished in comparison to its competitor (PSN, which we will get to soon), it also hold many more features alongside a very ‘sometimes too serious’ gamer community hah, although I have never owned a Xbox 360 myself its online gaming does appear vastly more efficient to the PS3. Up till today, Microsoft have produced many variations of the 360 with many promising larger hard drive space such as the ‘Elite’ (120gb) as well as design variants in aesthetics such as the Xbox 360 S (250gb).  

Right, so the Playstation 3 (2006) decided to come along embracing new technology, full on internet compatibility, and nicely polished aesthetics, but was this sleek, shiny machine able to fulfil as promised? Considering sales, not so much, it aligns itself slightly below the Xbox in terms of units but this could be because it was the first Blu ray player to hit the market, with Bluetooth controllers and free online gaming; its cost was also almost double Microsoft’s 360. Though it has kept a good reputation with its exclusive titles such as the Uncharted series, God of War, the Little Big Planet series, Kill zone series alongside many more though not all amazing, many allowed it to make greater use of its technology with very high quality graphics. Although I must mention the embarrassing crash of PSN in April 2011, Sony claimed an ‘external intrusion’ which led on to customer information and credit card details possibly being vulnerable. The whole online network was down globally (to my knowledge) for around a month. This left customers including ME very unsure of this “free” online thing although Sony did give a few free perks once everything was all back online as a apology to its customers. The PS3 has also followed up with a slim line version with 250gb. 

Now that we have gone through the big hitters for those veteran gamers it’s time to talk about Nintendo, though it offers much less quality in terms of graphics and gaming variety the Nintendo Wii (2006) has been the most successful next generation console. Its innovative controller brought motion sensitivity where player’s movement could produce the outcome on the screen. Due to its easy going, more “friendlier” games its demographic reaches vastly wider that Microsoft or Sony, the Wii console is seen more of a party piece to utilise with a group of people and it also asks for less commitment from users, a very pick up and play system. Both Microsoft and Sony have since added motion controllers to their consoles, Playstations ‘move’ controller and Microsoft’s ‘Kinnect’ both give users motion based game play, however the Xbox’s Kinnect system does not need any controller to use, similar to Playstation 2s Eyetoy. Although the Nintendo Wii isn’t the first to make use of motion control it sure is the most popular in terms of sales, though I don’t think serious gamers will be buying into it anytime soon. The future does a little cloudy though as game production costs constantly rise & Game publishers rather push on prequels and sequels and not invest in new titles. 
Nintendo’s DS is also a big name in this next generation war as it has become very popular in its own right for its stylus based touch screen interface as well as dual screen display. In competition with Sony’s PSP it has proved to be a lot more popular again in terms of sales as Nintendo, just like there Wii console decided to aim it towards a vast demographic of young kids, middle aged adults and even the old & retired. Titles like ‘Brain Training’ were very popular with parents for children as the DS provided an educational system of gaming. Nintendo have released many DS’s variation such as the DS Lite, DSi, DSi XL, and now the Nintendo 3DS (2011) which provides 3D viewing of games without any sort of glasses, though opinions may differ whether people want their games 3D or not, it is apparent that the technology is being used today.

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